Current Events

Ice Cube Stops By Youth Clinic Hosted by Big 3 Basketball, Thursday Was a Good Day

Ice Cube, founder of the BIG 3, made an appearance at Thursday's event.
Ice Cube, founder of the BIG 3, made an appearance at Thursday's event. Photo by Mohammad Mia
The kids at the Boys and Girls Club in downtown Houston had the time of their lives Thursday, as BIG3 and Adidas partnered to bring a youth clinic that featured food trucks, virtual reality video games, basketball tournaments, and a visit by the founder of the league itself, rapper and actor Ice Cube. The event was hosted as a part of BIG3’s commitment to grassroots activism and seeks to ensure that not only are children from underserved communities staying active during the summertime but that they’re also getting the chance to learn and be inspired by some NBA legends.

Today’s event, dubbed Young 3, was hosted by Jerome ‘Junk Yard Dog’ Williams, who made his NBA debut as a power forward when he was drafted by the Detroit Piston. Williams, who most recently played on the Power team in BIG3’s inaugural season, shed light on the history of the Young 3 and noted that “The Young 3 is a vision that Ice Cube and myself had to really bring the community together. It’s not just about basketball but a bigger message of getting kids to dream about Olympic medals, playing in the big leagues, and bringing everybody together.”

The effort is the result of Adidas’ recent partnership with the young basketball league, and Williams was deeply appreciative of their collaboration, “Adidas has done such a great job of this whole initiative from the block party aspect to the jerseys, the T-shirts, and really doing everything to make this exciting for the kids."

Yet the clinic was not solely about sports but also sought to provide an additional education component with the intent of promoting peace. Williams along with other players from the BIG3 league could be seen sporting “Shooting for Peace” T-shirts, referring to an organization founded by Williams with the intent of encouraging young people to engage in sports and foster well being throughout their neighborhoods.

A component of the program is an online course on African-American studies and, through a partnership with the online education organization EverFi, “Boys and Girls Clubs in every city that we play in, plus in their schools, will receive free digital education paid for by us the players. That's the educational component of the Young 3 while the basketball clinic is our sports and fitness component.” The clinics will be held in each of the 10 cities that BIG3 will compete in, ensuring that children in Boys and Girls Clubs across the nation will have the chance to grow and learn.

Darus Williams, who works for the Boys and Girls Club of Houston, was thrilled at the event and welcomed the opportunity to partner with the BIG3. “It’s been a great experience and the kids have really enjoyed the block party outside with the video games and enjoying the competition of the tournament,” he said. More than 200 children had the chance to participate in the event, with the majority of them coming from Houston’s Second and Third Ward. The clinic provided children with a chance to let loose and have some fun in a safe environment, something which can be rare for those from underserved communities to find during the summertime.

The Boys and Girls Club of Houston hopes to continue providing safe spaces for Houston’s youth, and currently has plans for a construction party that is sponsored by DPR Construction, “The organization has been really good to my club and this community here. Every summer they host a construction camp where they’ll bring a tractor, photos, and give kids the chance to build everything from bird feeders to bookshelves and even more.” The Boys and Girls Club of Houston is always looking for volunteers willing to donate their time to make events like this possible, recognizing that it’s through the help of volunteers that these spaces for Houston’s youth can continue to grow.

All the children who participated in the clinic Thursday will receive tickets to the game on Friday at the Toyota Center, and for fans who have not yet purchased their tickets, you still have some time before tip-off tomorrow.

The Big 3 Basketball Tournament takes place at 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Toyota Center, 1510 Polk.with a free performance by Ice Cube at 4 p.m.
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Houston Press contributor Mohammad Mia is a freelance photographer and journalist whose interested in exploring what it means to be human. Whether covering Houston activism or music festivals, he likes to keep an eye out for the small moments that make life worth living. When he's not working on The Not So Cool podcast you can find him reading or enjoying a taco, or four, at Tacos Tierra Caliente.